Recently, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) released a list of 15 commercials that were withdrawn by the advertisers after the Council upheld the complaints lodged against them by the consumers. The reasons for the complaints ranged from bad-taste to unsupported data representations. While LG airconditioners, Nestle Milo, Philips tripped on their tall claims, United Breweries were trying to pull a fast one by providing statistics for whiskey and “promoting” soda. Fair & Lovely (Lucky Boy), Bharat Gas (Chunnu-Munnu) were objected to on grounds of bad-taste and Daewoo Fridge, LML Freedom Motocycle & Dabur Chawanprash (kid on the rooftop) were considered too dangerous.

i would like to add two more:
1.the shahrukh (soldier) khan pepsi commercial that shows him hiding a can from his colleagues…armymen are supposed to be a part of the team and such selfishness is uncharacteristic of them

2.the brook-bond redlabel tea commercial that announces free gifts such as tiffin boxes, water bottles and school bags…now when did tea become a children’s beverage?

The ASCI is a self-regulatory body set up by the advertising industry. The advertising community in its efforts to project itself as responsible and sensitive towards the society try to tune themselves according to the recommendations of ASCI and in this case the objectionable commercials were withdrawn promptly. For once, the consumers seem to have a voice and can lodge their protests at a place where it would be heard. Unlike the film industry where the censor board always seems to leave a disgruntled party, either the viewer or the maker. i remember a time when i frantically tried to get some information on how i could make someone stop a song with offensive lyrics from a karishma kapoor-salman khan movie being aired on the tele. thankfully the film sank without a trace and the potential of the song as a “tool for harassment” went unnoticed by the roadside hoodlums. phew!!

the ASCI’s matter-of-fact manner of dealing with the present set of offensive commercials speaks volume about the maturity in the industry. in the case of a film, an objection from any quarter would be blown out of proportion with the makers crying hoarse to save their “right to cinematic license” and the moral police celebrating an off-season diwali. in the midst of all the drama, the film sets the cash registers ringing. casing point..”girlfriend”. after reading the reports abt “hawas” by the same director, i find it hard to believe that “girl-friend” would be a masterpiece. but the queues outside the theatres seem to have grown by leaps and bounds.

although the film and advertising industry share some superficial similarities, they differ in character, size and objective. while it maybe important to attend to the sensitivity of the customers for the advertisers, as their attention is the sole objective of the makers, films fulfill the basic need of its maker’s creativity. in such a case the viewers are not required to provide their inputs. but perhaps the film-fraternity could allow some logical solution to a viewer’s agony as both are part of the greater society and one would obviously affect the other.

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